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Switch off and save cash

23 January 2013 16:38:59

Why standby could be costing us the Earth image
Why standby could be costing us the Earth

Electrical items on standby could be costing us up to £1.3 billion every single year according to figures from The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Energy Saving Trust.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much cash you could be throwing away in your home?

Most modern UK households use electricity every minute of every day for appliances such as the fridge or shower, but in a world now dominated by gadgets and technology, we are consuming more electricity than ever before.

The cost of gas and electricity and skyrocketed in the past couple of years, leaving families struggling to choose between putting food on the table and paying the household bills.

However, there are some positive steps we could do to consume less electricity and save cash.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, the Environment Minister said: “We can all do simple things like switching off our televisions, computers and other home electronics and save up to £85 on electricity bills each year.”

This excess energy works out at a cost of £50-£86 per family each year – a sum that many of us could use in these testing times.

At compareandsave.com, we show you which of your household gadgets cost the most to run and tips on how to cut your electricity bills.

Freeze your cash now

Kitchen appliances have been known to be the appliances that consume the most electricity for a long time, primarily due to their nature. Fridges and freezers are plugged in and switched on 24/7 so even though their power rating may not be as high as other appliances, they are on for much longer.

The ‘Powering the Nation’ report suggests that cooling appliances cost £79 per year on average, that’s up to 15% of the overall bill. There are small things you can do to cut the cost such as:

  • limiting the amount of time you have the door open
  • using an appliance with an ‘A’ energy rating
  • not over-filling the compartments

Put it out to dry

The kitchen is a happy hunting ground for the energy companies as most of the appliances are deemed as necessary and consume a lot of electricity. The report found that around 80% of washes are followed by a tumble-drying cycle, meaning that just 20% of the time we hang our clothes outside or on a clotheshorse.

The decision to tumble dry clothes over hanging them to try could be a costly one as it is thought that the average cost of cleaning clothes for households with a drier is £81, compared to just £24 for those without.

At the push of the button

Moving on from the kitchen and into the world of computing where it was found that our computers cost us less than you might initially think. We spend more time on computers now than ever before due to advances in technology and the increasingly popularity of a ‘home office’.

‘Powering the Nation’ suggests that if you do use a computer a lot at home, it makes more financial sense to use a laptop than a desktop. The difference in the cost of running the two appliances is actually quite staggering.

On average, a desktop costs households £24 per year to run, whereas a laptop uses just a fraction of that, at £4 per year.

Cut the cost of running a home office or using the computer by:

  • Opting for a laptop rather than a desktop
  • Switching it off completely when it is not in use.

It’s all in the box

These days it seems as though if we’re not on the computer we are sitting in front of the television, as it was found that average TV watching is around six hours per day. This figure is far higher than the 4.8 hours suggested by the Government in 2009.

It is thought that powering our televisions, set top boxes, DVD players and games consoles costs an average £80 per year, which equates to around 15% of our total bill.

However, this figure varies widely depending on the type of equipment used and the family set up.

If you want to save a few pennies on the electricity you use watching the television, there are a few things you can do:

  • Turn off the television at the plug when it is not in use and at night
  • Avoid plasma TVs as they consume three times more energy than LCD TVs and five times more than the traditional CRT TV set
  • Switch off related appliances (eg.DVD player, games console) when they are not being used

If you are trying to make a conscious effort to use less electricity, ask your provider for a smart meter. Switch on to a healthier bank balance now…

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